Disney faces a backlash from its stars for firing ‘Guardians’ director James Gunn

Actors showing support including Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt and Selma Blair have tweeted in support of Gunn, who wrote and directed both Guardians of the Galaxy pictures and was working on a third film

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 24, 2017, US director James Gunn poses for a photograph upon arrival at the European Gala screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" in London. July 23, 2018, more than 240,000 people have signed a petition for Disney to rehire "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise director James Gunn, who also garnered celebrity support just days after he was axed over a series of offensive tweets. / AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / TO GO VITH AFP STORY BY VERONIQUE DUPONT
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Friends and fans of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn are urging Walt Disney Co to rehire the filmmaker, a rare moment in an era when bad behavior has gotten some of the biggest names in Hollywood summarily fired.

Actors including Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt and Selma Blair have tweeted in support of Gunn, who wrote and directed both Guardians pictures and was working on a third. Some 228,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking Disney to bring him back amid concerns that he was targeted by conservatives. The company didn't respond to a request for comment.

Disney terminated Gunn on July 20 after the right-leaning website Daily Caller published 8-year-old Twitter comments by the director that included jokes about the Holocaust, paedophilia, overweight people and violence against women. In tweets last week, Gunn said he had apologised many times for a sense of humour that hurt people.

“My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over,” he said.

Since producer Harvey Weinstein’s firing from his own studio over allegations of sexual harassment last October, Hollywood has seen a wave of dismissals for bad behaviour, including the cancellation of film and shows featuring Kevin Spacey and Louis CK. Disney eased out animation executive John Lasseter over allegations of inappropriate touching and cancelled a hit show starring Roseanne Barr because of a racist tweet.

Gunn could be generating support because his films, which have grossed more than $1.6 billion, have loyal base of Marvel superhero fans. There could also be a political element at work. Gunn, like many people in Hollywood, was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, while the Daily Caller is supportive of the president.


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